Paper/Speech Details of Conference Program for the 29th NISPAcee Annual Conference Program Overview WG1: Local Government (Physical) Author(s) Marek Jetmar AMBIS University Prague 8 Liben Czech Republic Title Bottom-up development of inter-municipal cooperation in Central Bohemia Region, Czechia File Paper files are available only for conference participants, please login first. Presenter Marek Jetmar Abstract In the literature we can find a number of cases of analysis of administrative reforms that led to the amalgamation of municipalities into larger entities or the formation of municipalities, including also marge other self-governing or administrative units at regional level (Blesse and Roesel (2019)). The reasons (political, economic), the aspects pursued - usually cost reduction (Blesse and Baskaran (2016)) plus efficiency gains - economies of scale (Strebel (2019)) and the final achievements, effects, are subject of research. However, it is necessary to distinguish situations, where administrative reforms have already taken place in the past resulted into administrative consolidation of the smallest municipalities, and the second or third stages of the reform – creation units with thousands or tens of thousands of inhabitants. However, in number of countries attempts of amalgamation failed. Reform was not implemented (e.g. France) or after a change of the system (political regime) the merged units have broken down (e.g. Czech Republic, Slovakia (Jetmar a kol. (2015)). The consequence is a very strong position of local and regional authorities, whose autonomous position vis-à-vis state and government interference is unusually broad in the European context. State interference into action of self-government is possible only in order to protect legality. Municipalities with less than 1000 inhabitants thus dominate the Czech settlement structure. Localism and aspect of local democracy (democratic effect) play crucial role. Contrary to the findings in the case of Switzerland (Strebel (2019)), there is no willingness to merge. Although a small amount of own revenues constitutes a real fiscal burden for them, the state's subsidy policy (in the case of the ESI funds, it can be as much as 95% of eligible expenditure) creates a pleasant cushion in many cases. But in general the situation is limiting ability of small municipalities to provide selected public services. The result is the creation of administrative circuits for services whose consumption the state requires (typically primary education) or cooperation of municipalities. Bottom-up approaches based on voluntary intermunicipal cooperation are possible, the vitality of which is conditional on achieving economic or other effects for the participating municipalities (ensuring the lack of services so far, economies of scale, capacity building for joint development projects, strengthening identity). The nature of the settlement - 1144 municipalities, and the enormous number of small ones in the Central Bohemia Region create a collaborative environment. Small municipalities in particular have insufficient capacities (both staff and financial) to ensure development priorities and meet the expectations of their citizens. The article focuses on analyses of the reasons that lead municipalities to participate in inter-municipal cooperation and the achieved effects of cooperation. Due to the formation of the regional association (Union of Voluntary Associations of Municipalities of the Central Bohemia Region), as an umbrella organization, which is unique in the context of the Czech Republic, are evaluated the reasons of participation of individual voluntary associations of municipalities. The author initiated the establishment of this Union.